As we observe the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom today, some quick numbers to chew on.
The federal minimum wage, on an inflation-adjusted basis was higher in 1963, than it is today. (still the same $7.25/hour) Richard Eskow wrote about this in the Huffington Post yesterday; the equivalent federal minimum wage was 13% higher in 1963 and 23% higher in 1968 than today. 2022: Today’s federal minimum wage continues to lag behind the 1968 equivalent.
There are more than a few states that have a minimum wage that is higher than the federal rate. Washington’s is $9.19/hour, (2023 going to $15.74/hour), was the highest in the country and .82/hour higher than the 1963 inflation adjusted wage of $8.37/hour. Since this original post, 28 states and D.C, have increased their minimum wage law. (since January 2014, according to the Economic Policy Institute here
2022: The minimum wage is indexed for inflation in 18 states and D.C., meaning it is automatically adjusted each year for increases in prices. They are:
Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Washington D.C.
There are still (mostly in the South) 4 states that have no stated or a lower minimum wage than the federal. The federal wage applies in those locations. American Samoa has its own rules, and most of their wages are lower than $6/hour. As of 2022, the minimum wage in the territory of Puerto Rico is $8.50 per hour, rising to $9.50 in 2023 *with many exceptions. The wonkiest of my readers might be interested in this link to a large study published in 2013 that debunks the idea that an modest increase in the minimum wage has a material negative effect on small businesses).
While many of my readers are not earning minimum wage, these calculations inform us all. As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “while we may have all come from different ships, we are all in the same boat now.”